Maliki’s only option is to leave Iraq

Gaza’s crisis will not succeed in diverting attention away from the wars in Syria and Iraq

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
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Gaza’s crisis will not succeed in diverting attention away from the wars in Syria and Iraq. Indeed, these two wars, particularly that in Iraq, may alter the course of the region. Iraqis may finally succeed in achieving a safe and smooth transition towards a new government which has the support of the majority of the Iraqi people. This will end the chapter of fear and chaos and open a new page and a new era.

Agreeing over a new government , a new prime minister, a new president and a new speaker for the parliament will save Iraq from chaos and partition and will enable Iraqis to confront terrorist groups and reform relations with their neighbors.

The only natural choice left for [Maliki] is to move to Tehran or London for a few years until the storm abates

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

One step is needed in Iraq to achieve this change, and that is appointing a new prime minister. In Baghdad, politicians continue to besiege the stubborn premier, Nouri al-Maliki, whose legitimacy has ended. After running out of tricks, he said that he agrees to step down but not at a cheap price. He stipulated 28 conditions; requesting immunity for himself and hundreds of his followers to save them from being held to account for corruption and crimes committed during the eight years of his iron-fist rule. The conditions also included compensatory posts, payments and real estate!

Maliki’s delayed moves

Maliki was very late in setting these terms only after political, religious and foreign powers agreed to remove him. He’s got nothing to bargain over, other than attaining some sort of immunity - and even that may not last long if more of his mismanagement is exposed. If he seeks to be safe and prevent being pursued, his logical choice would be to leave Iraq. The only natural choice left for him is to move to Tehran or London for a few years until the storm abates. His bad legacy will make it difficult for him to attain any definite assurances from anyone . He flared animosities with his opponents to the extent that scores of politicians had to flee Baghdad to safe havens in Iraqi Kurdistan, Jordan, Beirut and London. Meanwhile, he spent billions of dollars on his presidential guards to protect himself at the expense of protecting Iraq and its people. He increased the number of presidential guards from 6,000 to 70,000 in the capital Baghdad and appointed his relatives to oversee them. He thus followed in the footsteps of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and this is the secret behind Maliki’s tyranny and why his rivals fear him - he possessed a military power more trained and armed than the state forces.

Now that all of Iraq’s political forces have agreed to remove him, he is exaggerating his demands in the hope that he will remain the only figure who can impose his will on the future prime minister and the new Iraqi government. This may trigger a future battle. He wants huge funds, real estate, a force of 2500 troops to be added to his militias - as well as civil posts and jurisdictions.

No one wants the departing prime minister to be humiliated or subjected to revenge. This means the only safe option left for him after he leaves his palace will be to travel abroad, although few countries will welcome him.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on August 5, 2014.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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